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BSEACD annexation bill falls short in Legislature
Wednesday, June 3, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham
Plans for the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to annex a portion of
As late as last Thursday, district board members had expressed confidence that the annexation, presumed to be free of controversy, would move forward. However, on Tuesday when Deece Eckstein, coordinator of intergovernmental relations, briefed Travis County Commissioners on their legislative concerns, he informed the court that the annexation amendments had been stripped because of “explicit gubernatorial veto threats.”
Pct. 3 Commissioner Karen Huber, in an extended message to constituents echoed the claims that Governor Perry’s office was to blame. “Calls from special interests to the Governor defeated the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer groundwater annexation bill,” she said. “That is a critical bill to us. It will now cost us much more money to put in a ground water district, which has been mandated by the TCEQ.” She was referring to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which now will have the task of creating a new district from the area that the BSEACD sought to annex.
General Manager Kirk Holland said when bill authors hear that a bill’s fate may be imperiled by an amendment they are likely to jettison the controversial amendment. BSEACD Secretary Craig Smith told In Fact Daily given the history of TCEQ it was likely
Perry’s spokesperson Katherine Cesinger said, “I’m not aware of those specific conversations, but I would say it is a common practice for the Governor’s Office to work with lawmakers during the process on all legislation to make sure they know where the Governor stands on certain issues coming through the legislature.” When pressed as to why the Governor would have an issue with the annexation she said “I can try and track this down, but it’s kind of difficult to go off of someone from the Travis County Commissioner’s office,” and compared such allegations to hearsay.
Smith refused to throw in the towel. “I think we have to try again,” he said. Aside from going the legislative route again he opined, “We might try to proceed to annex the area in response to landowner petitions, I think we have the authority to do that under the existing water code and we might try to do that. But obviously, that’s very preliminary. We haven’t considered what the options are now but the need certainly hasn’t gone away.”
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